The road trip is an enduring symbol in American culture. The open road has represented a sense of possibility and freedom, discovery and escape — a place to get lost and find yourself in the process. As Stephen Shore has written, “Our country is made for long trips. Since the 1940s, the dream of the road trip, and the sense of possibility and freedom that it represents, has taken its own important place within our culture. ”
This myth of the Western frontier had long engaged artists. Throughout the decades, more and more photographers embarked on trips across the country, drawn to its vastness and the possibility to reflect on place, time, and self. Here is our pick of the seminal road trip photography books .
Editors' Tip: The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip by David Campany
Since the 1940s, the dream of the road trip, and the sense of possibility and freedom that it represents, has taken its own important place within American culture. Many photographers purposefully embarked on journeys across the U.S. in order to create work, including Robert Frank, whose seminal road trip resulted in The Americans. The Open Road considers the photographic road trip as a genre in and of itself and presents the story of photographers for whom the American road is muse. The book features David Campany’s introduction to the genre and 18 chapters presented chronologically, each exploring one American road trip in depth through a portfolio of images and informative texts. This volume highlights some of the most important bodies of work made on the road, from The Americans to the present day.
Featured image: Mike Brodie, Period of Juvenile Prosperity.